Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Real Madrid - Juventus Champions League commentary

Real Madrid were sublime in the first half. For the first ten minutes the team was shaky as they felt Juventus out, Michel Salgado was injured in the third minute and hobbled, Juventus probed the goal. Raul Bravo replaced Salgado and Madrid began to attack the game. Pavel Nedved also suffered a first half head injury and was stretchered off the field. Especially devastating at the back point of the diamond was Thomas Gravesen who broke up numerous attacks and fed the ball beautifully into counterattacking opportunities for the whole 90 minutes.

Eventually Madrid established its dominance with a header from the corner taken by defender Ivan Helguera. It was all they needed.

Juventus, without Nedved looked without options. The midfield had less reach and more and more pressure was soaked up as Real Madrid pushed further and further forward. Helped by some vintage passing Madrid pinned Juventus until it was backs against the wall from the 35th minute onwards.

The second half had less quality than the first. Madrid were quickly on top again and threatening but it soon came to an end as Juventus fell into fouling to the tune of six yellow cards, and let me say, the referee was lenient. Manuele Blasi was thankfully substituted after his card and the game flowed better without an enforcer on the pitch.

Real Madrid deservedly held onto the win, a slim 1-0 margin to take to Turin, Italy for the second leg. Real merited another goal, going there again without the deserved 2-0 could prove costly.

As for Juventus, the masters of protecting a 1-0 lead, they were given a taste of their own medicine as Real Madrid showed the resolve needed to grind out a result in the second half.
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